Your friend, wanderlust, comes knocking once again and you’re thinking of cool European cities to visit. London and Manchester are eagerly waiting for your arrival. The rich history and wonderful sites in these parts of England will leave a lasting impression.
As one of the most visited cities in the world, London needs little introduction. It’s first on the list of people who are planning to take a thrilling UK vacation. With a staggering 20 million tourists each year, the city won’t hide its beauty from anyone who cares to look.
London is getting a lot of fanfare but there is another English city that you can’t ignore. If you’re looking for a nice destination beyond the borders of London, Manchester will not leave you hanging. Let your eyes feast on its finest works of neo-gothic architecture.
Manchester lets you see and experience how passionate the people are about music and sporting events. Fun gatherings in its beautiful tourist spots will draw you and your travel-loving buddies in. Take a leisurely trip to both cities because there’s no doubt that they’ll give you that warm and fuzzy feeling.
As the capital city of England, London will never stop to pique its visitors’ interest and curiosity. You’ve seen images and heard so many stories that describe how precious this place is. And if you see it for yourself, you’re going to understand why this side of England is so revered.
London’s majestic beauty makes people feel as if they’re entering a magical place. This city is indeed the center of England’s powerful monarchy.
This is where the ordinary, extraordinary, old, and new traditions meet and merge seamlessly. London is absorbing different influences from all parts of the globe in stride while keeping its strong identity. It’s such an inviting place that the thought of leaving could even make someone sad.
A trip to London is going to be a memory that you’ll always cherish. The city’s top attractions can’t wait to have you as one of their guests. So get your tickets, pack your bags, and get ready for another fun-filled vacation.
What Makes London Unique
Oxford Street Shops
Vacations usually involve shopping and the items that you’ve bought remind you of those wonderful trips. While on a break in the UK, you can spend some time shopping on Oxford Street. It’s a major road in the West End of London visited by approximately 500,000 people every day.
That number makes it the busiest shopping district in Europe. With 300 shops along the street, the shopping experience in this area will never go stale or out of style. This is where high-end brands, vintage items, and loyal, enthusiastic shoppers meet.
This bustling spot in London won’t stress you out because its positive energy is contagious. The people around you are in a good mood to shop and interact with other shoppers. You can’t stop yourself from smiling as you watch people walk excitedly toward their favorite shops.
The most visited department stores are House of Fraser, John Lewis & Partners, and Selfridges. Restaurants and cafes in Oxford will happily prepare delicious meals for you while you’re there. Shops in Oxford Street are open from 10 am to 8 pm six days a week and 12 pm to 6 pm on Sundays.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
This park was initially built as a venue for the 2012 Olympics. Simply named The Olympic Park, it was later renamed to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth II. After hosting the historical sporting event, this place became a popular tourist attraction.
Here, you’ll find the home stadium of the West Ham United football team. Although it’s still known as a sports complex, the Olympic Park is a multipurpose venue as well. This public park has been hosting live performances of popular musical acts.
Some of its big-time guest performers were Elton John, Paul Weller, Adele, and One Direction. You’ll notice that there’s a specific spot in the park where tourists line up for something. That big and curvy tower that got people’s attention is the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit is a 376-foot (114.5 m) sculpture and observation tower. It was designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond for the 2012 Olympics. At the top of the tower, you’re going to get a wonderful view of the park.
A single ride on its 584-foot (178 m) tunnel is about 40 seconds long. Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping experience as you slide down the tunnel of this iconic tower.
It’s alright if you’re not in the mood to entertain that little daredevil in you. You can just watch the other visitors have their ArcelorMittal Orbit moment from a distance. Or you can take a relaxing stroll along the park’s greener areas. Don’t worry about your taste buds because good food and drinks aren’t hard to find.
Let your eyes enjoy looking at world-class works of art and the beauty of nature. Guided tours can add a dose of interactive fun to your exploration. Share food and stories with other folks so you can make new friends and memories.
The park is open 24 hours every day except for a few select areas that require admission. There are plenty of sights to see here and very exciting things to do. Let the Olympic Park’s positive energy chase your blues away.
Royal Air Force Museum
You’ve probably seen the logo of the rock band The Who or the clothing brand Ben Sherman. A blue and red target symbol is commonly featured in their logos. The symbol was first used by England’s Royal Air Force to prevent cases of friendly fire during the war.
Welcome to the Royal Air Force Museum in Colindale, London. A place where history buffs, aviation enthusiasts, and casual visitors meet to take a tour. Don’t let out a big yawn just yet because the museum can offer an entertaining educational experience to everyone.
The museum includes five buildings where you can see different types of aircraft on display. By touring Hangars 1 to 6, you’ll learn about the history and evolution of the Royal Air Force. See how the planes adapted to the different changes and situations as the century went on.
The most notable British planes are Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. The brave men and women of the Royal Air Force have fought so hard to stop Nazi Germany’s reign of terror. German planes are also on display like the Heinkel He 111 and Messerschmitt Bf 109.
The museum shows both the good and bad parts of aviation history. Feed your mind with more information about the Royal Air Force’s prowess by giving this place a visit. Take advantage of the free admission so you can include educational stuff in your London vacation.
The Royal Air Force Museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm. There’s a restaurant in its 1930’s store building where you can grab some food after your tour. Next to it is a children’s playground where kiddos can play as pilots of mini replicas of RAF planes.
Saint Paul’s Cathedral
Saint Paul’s Cathedral Stands at the top of the highest hill in London. It’s an Anglican cathedral that serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London. Its construction was completed in 1710 and it’s been an integral part of London ever since.
Visiting this architectural wonder with a rich history is always a treat for everyone. As one of the biggest churches in the UK, you’ll need at least two hours for a tour. Marvel at the picture-perfect, gothic design of its inner and outer portions.
The highest part of the structure is the dome. Climbing up the dome will give you a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the city. It’s not as high as The Shard, but Saint Paul’s Cathedral is high enough for enjoyable sightseeing.
Inside the cathedral, there are priceless works of religious art like paintings and sculptures. Oculus is a 270-degree film that shows the cathedral’s colorful history. Its library includes 21,000 books, manuscripts, and archeological finds in its collection.
Parts of the archive have survived The Great Fire of London that almost burned the whole city down in 1666. Saint Paul Cathedral is a must-visit place because it’s an integral part of London’s identity. Get your eyes and mind ready for fascinating sights and stories inside this historical church.
The cathedral is open every day from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm except for Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s still open on Wednesdays but at a later hour of 10 in the morning. Tour tickets with audio/visual presentations cost 21.60 USD for adults, 36.90 for families/groups, and 19.20 for seniors.
On a northbound trip outside of London and Birmingham, you’ll find another special destination. Welcome to Manchester. It is the home of successful football clubs, the industrial revolution, and Britpop legends, Oasis.
You’ve heard this city’s name many times and you’re wondering what sets it apart from London. It’s a smaller place than England’s capital, but size doesn’t affect Manchester’s ability to attract visitors. Like London, Manchester is a historically and culturally rich destination.
As one of the pioneers of industrialization, its surroundings remind people of its glory years. Manchester’s sports, visual arts, and music scenes make it a great destination for passionate folks. The friendly, positive vibe of everyone will excite you and make your stay enjoyable.
The rivaling football teams in Manchester have been facing each other for more than a century. Fans of Manchester City and Manchester United will tell you how crazy they are about the sport. Manchester is where the computer genius and LGBTQ icon Allan Turing came from.
He played a pivotal role in the UK’s war against Germany by building a computer that can decode the opposing troops’ messages. Manchester is similar to London when it comes to progress and beauty. Your eyes cannot miss its gorgeous architecture.
It’s not a place commonly mentioned by other tourists. But visitors who took a trip here were pleasantly surprised by its unique attractions. Don’t hesitate to visit this city while you’re in the UK because Manchester is a great vacation spot.
What Makes Manchester Unique
Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford Stadium
Etihad Stadium represents Manchester City’s football team. Old Trafford on the other hand is the home stadium of Manchester United FC. It’s safe to assume that football is a very big deal in the city and Greater Manchester.
The intense, century-long rivalry between these teams isn’t limited to the players. You’ll be impressed by the hardcore support from the fans of both clubs. If there’s a scheduled game during your stay, watching a match live is quite an experience.
Casual visitors can also have a wonderful time watching a game in Manchester. What if there are no scheduled games during your Manchester vacation? Don’t worry because the stadiums of both clubs are open for sightseeing tours.
Touring the Etihad Stadium takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. Some portions of the tour are professionally guided while the remaining parts are self-guided. The tour includes holographic exhibitions, a 360-degree cinema suite, and a visit to the players’ locker rooms.
These immersive presentations give you more insight into why football is so big in Manchester. You can also walk through the historic players’ glass tunnel. A tunnel that legendary players from different eras have walked through.
Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium can give tourists a fun time as well. A tour lets you visit the museum and dugout, and walk next to the world-famous pitch. There’s an ability platform that gives you a great view of the arena.
Cap the tour off with a meal in the Red Cafe. Stadium and museum tours are available from Thursday to Sunday except for game days. The price of a tour ticket can range from 6 to 30 USD, and online tickets are usually cheaper so an early booking is a good deal.
Etihad Stadium tours can cost 6 to 30 USD and 70 USD for VIP tours, and online bookings are available. Tours run from 10 am to 3:30 pm every day. For a Manchester United game ticket, the starting price is 102 USD while Etihad tickets start at 158 USD.
Experience the finest moments in football by getting tour or game tickets. Let the crowd’s amazing energy bring out the fan in you during games, or make new friends while you’re on a tour. Take some cool pictures and add them to your collection of your best Manchester moments.
“Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you.” You’ve probably heard this opening line on the radio countless times. What about it? Well, this song was written by one of Manchester’s most successful groups, Oasis.
The music scene in Manchester is something else. Even casual fans are enjoying the sounds. The place is a treasure trove for passionate musicians and their music-loving fans. Like football, music is also a big deal in this side of England that both locals and tourists take seriously.
You can experience Manchester’s rich musical tradition by attending some of its music festivals. Some of its most popular events are Parklife, Jazz Festival, and International Festival. Whichever genre you prefer, there’s always a musical sound that would bring life to your visit.
Aside from Oasis, Manchester’s answer to London’s Blur, there are plenty of musical acts that represent the city. The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Joy Division, and the pop-punk pioneers the Buzzcocks are just a few of them. Even the ones who didn’t perform on Top of The Tops would surely give you delight through the power of music.
From big festivals to local pubs and bars, there’s always music that can bring entertainment to every visitor. So if you’re on your way to Manchester, your ears are in for a melodic treat. You can check the schedules of bars and festivals online and pick an event according to your taste.
Manchester Art Gallery
It’s time to give your eyes a treat by letting them see a collection of beautiful artworks from the masters. The Manchester Art Gallery is made up of three interconnected buildings. This is where drawings, paintings, miniatures, and decorative glass and metalworks are put on display.
The majority of the collection is made up of Victorian-era pieces created by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Other notable works on display came from the collection of the French impressionist Pierre Adolphe Valette. But it’s also diverse because the oldest item there is a canopic jar from 1100 BC Egypt.
Manchester is a place where creativity is celebrated. So the meticulously arranged items inside the art gallery will not fail to amaze a visitor. Bring out the art student in you and explore the colorful world of art.
Walk-in visitors are free to get a self-guided tour ticket. You can take pictures inside but using a camera with a flash is not allowed. The Manchester Art Gallery is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm except for Mondays.
Science and Industry Museum
As a pioneer of industrialization, there’s a museum built to commemorate Manchester’s contributions. You’ll find the Science and Industry Museum on Liverpool Road, Greater Manchester. Watch how fascinating inventions work and learn more about the stories behind them and their creators.
Though it’s outside the city proper, the museum doesn’t hide its modern and innovative elements. There are plenty of vintage items in its collection as well. In one of the exhibits, you’ll see a detailed and faithful replica of the Manchester Baby.
Manchester Baby is the world’s first random-access-memory computer. This powerful machine drew inspiration from the works of Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and Alan Turing. There’s a large collection of steam engines, weaving machines, and electric generators.
There’s no shortage of big and small machines since Manchester was a major player in the industrial revolution. British Rail Class 77, Ericson’s Novelty, and Pakistan Railways 3157 belong to the locomotive section. Some exhibits are currently closed for renovation but the remaining parts are still open for tours.
This educational tourist attraction covers 250 years of scientific and industrial history. Learn about the mad concepts and backstories behind the machines that most people take for granted today. Steampunk fans, future inventors, and scientists are going to have a grand time here.
Even if you’re not into science-related subjects, you’d still be impressed by the machines on display. To enjoy the free admission, you must book a free ticket in advance for a hassle-free tour. The Science and Industry Museum is open seven days a week from 10 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon.
Is Manchester Better Than London?
London and Manchester are awesome destinations because both of them can give you a bang for your buck. There are many attractions for you to discover in London but keep in mind that it’s a busier area. It’s a great spot for long vacations, and if your schedule would allow it, give London a shot.
London is a densely populated place so you can expect a higher number of people and vehicles everywhere. You’ll need more time and a healthy dose of patience to fully experience the finest things in London. But if you prefer a relaxing kind of vacation in a shorter time, you’re better off visiting Manchester.
For tourists who don’t like to spend a lot of time and money, Manchester is the best alternative. Aside from London, it’s one of England’s best cities, so it’ll give you a fun and memorable vacation. Despite being a smaller place, Manchester’s attractions can effortlessly match what London has to offer.
Manchester’s major advantages are, it’s a cheaper destination and it’s a less congested place than London. Those two things are appealing to tourists who prefer a laid-back and less expensive vacation. Since time, budget, and comfort all play a crucial role in a person’s trip, Manchester gets the win.
Is Manchester Safer Than London?
Manchester and London’s main attractions are great places to visit. As far as safety is concerned, Manchester is a safer place compared to London. The higher rate of criminal activity in London is possibly linked to its bigger area and population.
Manchester vs. London Crime
Manchester and London are two major cities in England. Based on the data in the lodgeservice site, in Manchester, there are 383 crimes per 1,000 of its population. London’s crime number for a thousand of its population is 497.
Law enforcement agencies are doing their best to protect the citizens and visiting tourists. By installing CCTV cameras, they can easily identify criminals and stop them from causing harm. Police forces are on the lookout for shenanigans that are deemed illegal and dangerous.
In the past, the two cities were notorious for cases of violent crimes. Nowadays, the numbers are starting to dwindle, thanks to technology and the officials’ proactive approach. If you follow the advice of local authorities, you’re going to be safe in both cities.
Is Manchester Cheaper Than London?
The cost of visiting Manchester is 31% cheaper than a London vacation. Basic needs like food, clothes, and transportation are less expensive in Manchester. Manchester’s rent and hotel costs are 54.26% lower than London’s prices for accommodations.
Weather in London vs. Manchester
Both places are cold but London has mild and warmer weather compared to Manchester. Manchester’s climate involves cloudy skies, and frequent at that, so you should wear clothes that can keep you warm while you’re there. London’s temperature ranges from 39°F to 74°F (3.8 to 23.3°C) depending on the season.
In Manchester, the temperatures are always a few degrees lower than London’s temperatures. The coldest months in Manchester can go as low as 37°F (2.7°C). Manchester’s summer temperature usually peaks at 69°F (20.5°C).
Is Manchester in London?
Manchester is a different place, and it’s outside the borders of London. Greater Manchester and Greater London are counties in England. The cities of Manchester and London are within the said counties.
Is Manchester Close to London?
Manchester and London aren’t next to each other. But you don’t need to spend a whole day to cover the distance between them. Some of the cities between Manchester and London are Birmingham, Chester, Milton Keynes, Telford, and Warwick.
How Far Is Manchester From London?
Manchester is 163 miles (262 km) from London. You’re going to need a 3- to 4-hour drive to travel from Manchester to London and vice versa. The route between the two lets you go through the territory of Birmingham.
Manchester vs. London Size
Manchester is the smaller county that has a land area of 493 square miles (1,277 km²). The borders of Greater London cover 671.0 square miles (1,737.9 km²). The city of Manchester’s size is 45 square miles (116 km²) while the land area of the city of London is only 1.12 square miles (2.9 km²).
When comparing the two counties, London is bigger than Manchester. But if you compare the sizes of their cities, it’s the other way around.
The number of people in London is three times higher than Manchester’s population.
How to Get From London to Manchester
You can travel from London to Manchester by car, train or plane. The main driving route is through the M40 motorway while alternative routes include the M5, M6, and M56 motorways. For train trips, the stations that connect London and Manchester are Euston and Piccadilly.
There are 57 daily direct plane trips from London to Manchester. There are 6 airports in London while Manchester has 3. A plane ride usually takes an hour and a few minutes, and the average number of departures in a week is 400.
Distance Between London and Manchester by Air
The aerial distance between London and Manchester is 163 miles (262 km). A plane from London usually takes an hour before landing at one of Manchester’s airports. There are 56 direct flights from London to Manchester in a day.
London to Manchester by Train
There are 76 to 79 train departures from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly each day. You can buy train tickets from Avanti West Coast, LNER, and InterCity-Express. Direct and high-speed trips are being offered by InterCity-Express and Avanti West Coast.
Distance From London to Manchester by Train
Trains from London to Manchester and vice versa cover a distance of 183 miles (294 km). A regular ticket costs 32 to 33 USD and you can book a train trip in advance for a hassle-free ride. There are direct trips and there are rides that include one change of train along the way.
How Long Is the Train Journey From London to Manchester?
The average travel time from London to Manchester by train is 2 hours and 35 minutes. Boarding a high-speed train of InterCity-Express can cut the duration down to just 2 hours or less. Their maximum speed is 125 miles per hour (200 km/h).
The first train departs from Euston Station at 5:30 in the morning. Most stations are closed by midnight after the departure of the last train at 11:30 pm. If you failed to catch the last train, you can board a Night Tube train from Euston to Piccadilly (Manchester) instead.
London to Manchester Train Cost
A train ticket from London to Manchester can range from 32 to 50 USD depending on the speed or ticket type. The price of a regular ticket is 32 USD. Getting a high-speed train ticket for a faster journey will cost you 45 to 50 USD.
Sleeper Train From London to Manchester
Since modern trains can run faster than older models, an overnight train is not necessary. A train from London can take you to Manchester in just 2 to 3 hours. If your destination is more than 5 hours away from London, you can board a Caledonian Sleeper.
London Heathrow to Manchester by Train
The nearest train station to London Heathrow is the Hatton Cross Station. There are no direct train trips from Heathrow to Manchester. A train ride from Hatton Cross that’ll take you to Manchester Piccadilly includes 2 to 3 changes.
The two stations are 85 miles (137 km) apart and travel time takes 4 hours and 28 minutes. The train for the Hatton Cross to Manchester route only departs once a day. If you go to London Euston Station, there are direct and multiple train rides to Manchester.
London to Manchester by Car
You can drive a car from London to Manchester by using the M40 motorway. There’s a 200-mile (322 km) driving distance between the two. Some people take alternative routes on M5, M6, and M56 motorways, but M40 is still the most used highway.
London to Manchester Driving Time
If you’re taking the main route, you’re going to drive for 4 hours to get to Manchester. When roads are not congested, you can complete the trip half an hour earlier.
The speed limit for highways in the UK is 70 miles per hour (112.6 km/h).
Cheapest Way to Get to Manchester From London
A bus ride is the cheapest way to get from London to Manchester. Buses don’t travel as fast as planes or trains, but it’s the cheapest option for passengers. One trip will only cost you 13 USD.
The average bus ride from Manchester to London takes 4 hours and 30 minutes. Some trips can even take 5 hours or more when the roads are too busy. The two major bus terminals in London are the stations of National Express and Victoria Coach.